The U.S. Postal Service reported receipt of about 498 million international parcels for calendar year 2017. (For purposes of this report, parcels refer to ePackets, Letter Class Untracked Packets, Express Mail Service and Parcels.) Data on these inbound parcels is received and processed through the Postal Service’s Global Business System (GBS) and its components.
The Postal Service uses this data for a variety of reasons, but most notably the following:
- Financial – GBS data is transmitted to the Foreign Post Settlement (FPS) system for billing. The FPS system transmits GBS data quarterly to the Revenue, Pieces, and Weight (RPW) reporting system for financial and regulatory reporting and monthly to the general ledger for accounting purposes. This module tracks data at specific points in time. Recent RPW data reported total inbound international mail
- Operations – GBS data is transmitted several times a day to the Corporate Data Acquisition System where it is reformatted and then transmitted to the Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) to help analyze service performance, project staffing, and capture parcel volume and weight data.
Postal Service staff retrieve data from the RPW system and EDW as needed. Data from these systems was also used in recent Congressional hearings covering the use of international mail to facilitate trafficking of opioids.
Our objective was to evaluate the accuracy and completeness of financial and operational inbound international parcel volume data.
What the OIG Found
Although financial data on inbound international parcels is generally accurate and complete, we were unable to reconcile operational data used to manage these parcels with the financial data. Specifically:
- Processes did not always exist to validate data flowing between the GBS and the EDW.
- The Postal Service did not have data storage capacity to retain key EDW data, and operational data was purged which limited the ability to conduct reconciliations.
- The Postal Service did not track mail volume for inbound Letter-Class Untracked Packets in the EDW.
- Postal Service personnel did not have a mechanism to independently obtain reliable international parcel volume data from the EDW.
The Postal Service needs to have accurate, complete, and detailed inbound international parcel volume data to ensure:
- The Postal Service is not assessed financial penalties when it does not meet service performance targets.
- Appropriate Postal Service resources are assigned to timely process, deliver, and secure international parcels.
- External stakeholders, such as Congress and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, understand the magnitude of potential prohibited items in the mail stream to make appropriate decisions related to their responsibilities.
What the OIG Recommended
We recommended management:
- Design and document regular controls over operational inbound international volume and weight data transmitted between the GBS and the EDW.
- Evaluate and implement, as appropriate, a retention strategy for key data transferred from GBS to EDW that helps address operational data reliability concerns.
- Develop a methodology to estimate and track mail volume for Letter Class Untracked Packets in EDW.
- Create an internal reporting mechanism to generate inbound international parcel volume data from EDW.